Sat, May 24, 2008 - Page 2 News List

City councilors call for building checks

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government was urged yesterday to repair buildings damaged by the 921 Earthquake and to inspect the earthquake-resistance capacity of 576 aging buildings at municipal schools to prevent disasters in Taiwan like those in the recent Sichuan earthquake.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilors Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) and Chin Li-fang (秦儷舫) criticized the city government for its failure to rebuild about 70 buildings almost nine years after the devastating Sept. 21 earthquake in 1999, and expressed concern about the safety of several old school buildings in the city.

“Taiwan is located in an earthquake zone, and residents in these damaged buildings live in fear everyday. The city government, however, has been passive about the repair of these buildings,” Lee said yesterday at the Taipei City Council.

Chin also called on the city government to assess the earthquake-resistance of school buildings, as many schools in Sichuan collapsed during the earthquake and caused concern about the quality of school construction.

Chin said that school buildings including Taipei Jianguo High School, Taipei First Girls High School and Ze Hsin Primary School are more than 50 years old and should be repaired or demolished because of safety concerns.

Wu Wen-chi (吳文誌), a division chief at the city’s Education Department, said some of the old buildings in schools were already listed as historical sites or monuments, and said that old buildings were not necessarily dangerous.

Wu said the historical sites at municipal schools were all well taken care of by the city government, and the department put aside a budget of about NT$700 million (US$22 million) each year for schools to maintain or repair their buildings.

Chang Ming-sen (張明森), a division chief at the city’s Building Administration Office said the basic structures of the buildings damaged in the 921 Earthquake had been repaired, but some residents were unwilling to accept reconstruction or demolition of their buildings.

Chang said as the structures of the buildings were damaged by natural disasters, rather than human factors, the city government could not force residents to have the buildings repaired or demolished according to the Construction Law (建築法).

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